Changes to the UK Immigration Rules Announced
On 16th October 2014, the UK Government announced number of changes to the UK Immigration Rules which are due to come into effect on 6th November 2014. The major changes that have been announced are the following:-
- Indefinite Leave to Remain
Changes are being made to the requirement of the knowledge of language and life in the UK whereby Secretary of State may require an applicant to attend an interview and/or to retake the relevant examinations or tests in order to satisfy the Secretary of State that the knowledge of language and life requirement is met.
- Tier 1 (General)
An adjustment will be made to the grant periods for Tier 1 (General) extensions to either 3 years (as at present) or the balance the applicant needs to take their time in the category to 5 years, whichever is longer. This will allow applicants to accrue 5 years in the category before the closing date, even if their original grant was delayed due to a refusal and appeal.
Once all the extension applications are processed in April 2015, the Home Office will consider to make provisions that are needed for indefinite leave to remain application. Thus, the Home Office may alter the qualifying criteria for Tier 1 (General) migrants applying for settlement after April 2015.
- Tier 2
A “genuine vacancy” test is being introduced to Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applications. This change empowers Entry Clearance Officers and caseworkers to refuse applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job described by the sponsor does not genuinely exist, has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold, or (in respect of Tier 2 (General)) has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited, or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not qualified to do the job.
The Immigration Rules will also be updated to include confirmation that sponsors are not permitted to sponsor a migrant to undertake a routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for a third party.
Introduction of “Resident Labour Market Test” for Tier 2 extension applications where the applicant is not continuing to work in the same occupation for the same sponsor. Currently, the exemption only applies if the applicant still has current leave as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant when they make their extension application. The migrant must be continuing in the same occupation and for the same sponsor to qualify for the RMTL exemption. If the migrant is unable to apply for an extension of stay within 28 days, the sponsor must undertake a resident labour market test in order to sponsor the migrant.
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
For applications made in the UK, the funds to be invested in the business must also be in the UK, to help verify that the funds are genuine.
Applicants for indefinite leave to remain will need to show they have actually invested their funds (if they have not been required to do so in a previous application). This will apply to applicants for accelerated settlement who have not made an extension application before applying for settlement.
- Tier 1 (Investor)
The changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) category represent some of the biggest reforms to the route since it was introduced. The main changes are:
The current £1m minimum investment threshold is being raised to £2m.
A change is being made to require the full investment sum to be invested in prescribed forms of investments (share or loan capital in active and trading UK companies, or UK Government bonds), rather than 75 per cent of the sum as at present. This means that those entering the UK under the Tier 1 (Investor) category will no longer be able to invest up to 25 per cent of the funds in UK property or hold it in a UK bank account.
The current requirement that the migrant’s investment must be “topped up” if its market value falls is being removed; instead Tier 1 (Investor) Migrants will only need to purchase new qualifying investments if they sell part of their portfolios and need to replace them in order to maintain the investment threshold. Consequently, Tier 1 (Investor) migrants will only need to demonstrate that, at the time they purchased the qualifying investments, the value of those investments met the required threshold. However, they will no longer need to make an additional investment if the value of those investments drops below the required threshold.
The existing provision under which the required investment sum can be sourced as a loan is being removed.
- Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
The annual allocations for participating countries on the scheme are being set for 2015. There is an increase in the allocations for New Zealand (16%).
- Business Visitors
Two major changes are being made to the Business Visitor Rules which involve adding new categories to the list of Permitted Activities. These are activities that would normally constitute working in the UK but, as a matter of policy, the Government allow Business Visitors to undertake: